One of the Mabinogi’s most iconic characters
Blodeuwedd is a character from the stories of the Mabinogi. The Mabinogi is a collection of mythical Welsh tales divided into four parts or ‘branches’.
Blodeuwedd’s story is told in the fourth branch of the Mabinogi, ‘Math fab Mathonwy’ (Math, son of Mathonwy).
A woman made of flowers
A woman named Arianrhod places a ‘tynged’ (fate) on her son, Lleu Llaw Gyffes. The fate meant that Lleu could never marry a human woman.
But Lleu had an uncle named Gwydion, a legendary wizard. Upon hearing Lleu’s fate, Gwydion created him a wife made of flowers and named her Blodeuwedd.
She was created from the flowers of the oak, the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet.
Blodeuwedd and Lleu got married, but trouble was soon on the horizon. Blodeuwedd had fallen in love with Gronw Pebr, a warrior and hunter from Penllyn.
Blodeuwedd and Gronw’s plot
To solve their dilemma, Blodeuwedd and Gronw decided to murder Lleu so that they could live happily together. But killing Lleu was no easy task.
Lleu could only be killed in certain circumstances. He had to have one foot on a bath and one on a goat. He would then have to be stabbed with a spear—but not any old spear. It had to be a spear created over a year during Mass.
Faced with such conditions, Blodeuwedd and Gronw were almost hopeless—until Blodeuwedd had an idea.
She asked Lleu to show her exactly how he had to stand in order to be killed. Lleu would have no suspicions about Blodeuwedd’s plan—after all, he and Blodeuwedd were happily married and in love.
As he stepped to stand on the bath and placed his other foot on a goat, Gronw appeared from nowhere and stabbed him.
Suddenly, Lleu transformed into an Eagle and flew off into the night.
Lleu and Gwydion’s revenge
Blodeuwedd and Gronw lived happily for a while after Lleu’s departure. But soon, revenge was had on the insidious couple. Lleu and his wizard friend Gwydion returned and killed Gronw Pebr.
Blodeuwedd was turned into an owl, thus never being able to show her face in the light of day ever again.